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Asbestos safety session

Industry: 
Construction
Runtime: 
01:08:14

The asbestos safety session was presented live and recorded during Asbestos Awareness Week 2020. The session was presented to raise awareness about the hidden dangers of asbestos. Topics covered included how to check for and identify asbestos-containing products and how to safely handle and remove them. Safety Advocates Julie and Don Sager, who lost their son to mesothelioma at just 25 years of age, also discussed the lurking dangers of asbestos.

- Good morning everyone and welcome to another special session from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. It's the Asbestos Safety session. And thanks for joining us here this morning. It's Asbestos Awareness Week and my name is Chris Bombolas, I'll be your MC this morning. Today, we're helping raise awareness about asbestos as part of Asbestos Awareness Week which runs from the 23rd to the 29th of November. We'll learn about the hidden dangers of asbestos, find out how to check for and identify asbestos-containing products and how to safely handle and remove them. I'd like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. I'd like to extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples watching today. Now throughout our presentation, if you have questions for any of our speakers, and we have a number of them today, you can ask them at any time by typing your name and question via the chat box which is to the right of the livestream. We'll ask those questions during the panel session at the end of our programme. If you want to change the size of your screen, select the four small arrows next to the volume bar at the bottom of your screen. Now before we get into our first guest speakers, safety advocates, Don and Julie Sager, let's have a look at a short video.

- [Narrator] Julie and Don Sager love their children and would do anything to protect them.

- At 18 months old, our toddler son was exposed to a grave danger. He wasn't hit by a car while riding his bike.

- [Don] He didn't drown in our swimming pool. Something happened while we were working on our home.

- [Julie] What we did with this inconspicuous piece of sandpaper killed our son.

- We sanded asbestos walls while our son was playing nearby. The warnings were on the inside of the panels.

- It took 20 years. The asbestos got into his lungs and killed him. At the young age of 25, our Adam passed away.

- [Narrator] Decades after being exposed to asbestos, Julie and Don witnessed their son's death. Don't endure what their family went through. If you're planning a renovation or home maintenance, know where asbestos could be found and take the proper precautions before starting work. Visit asbestos.qld.gov.au.

- It is an important and sobering message and it's all about losing a son to mesothelioma. And Don and Julie Sager are our safety advocates and joining us this morning. Good morning, Don and Julie.

- Good morning.

- Very well, thank you. Let's start at the beginning. How has asbestos affected your family? We saw the short clip and there is a longer version of that. So tell us.

- Yeah. It's hard to explain. Everybody gathers around you, they wanna keep you up and alive. At the end of the day, it's us, there's just us. We have a beautiful daughter and we have beautiful grandsons and son-in-law and our extended family are incredible. They go back to their lives. Our lives, where there's still somebody missing from our picture, there's somebody still missing from our dinner table, there's someone missing from celebrations. And it's through something that we did having no knowledge of what was gonna happen.

- Can you just explain for people watching here today how those circumstances unfolded?

- We were really young, just newly married and starting our life. We had this new house, brand-new spanking house that it was finished on the outside for us and we had the work to do on the inside. And we were keeners and just jumped straight in and got stuck into preparing the walls. And at that time we didn't know there were asbestos-containing materials in and we were all capable of doing the work. We were just there and the damage was done then.

- All those years earlier?

- Yes.

- Yeah.

- Adam was 18 months old.

- Yup and innocently playing in the yard.

- Just playing, he actually was playing in the house, sweeping up all the dust as we went through and did the work trying to save a little bit of money thought we'd do the safe thing and keep him with us and save some money in the meantime.

- Then let's fast forward and say, what are your thoughts and comments when I say to you, when in doubt about something containing asbestos, always get it checked.

- That would have saved our son's life for sure. We wouldn't have been in the position that we are now. It's after now that we should be finding out first and I agree.

- Yep.

- Stop think, what are we working with? Where could it be? And let's find out first and get the right people in.

- On that note, what have you learnt about asbestos you wish you knew earlier? It's a question you probably get asked all the time.

- That it's non-discriminatory

- Yep.

- It doesn't affect everybody that comes in touch with it. There's varying diseases or reflections that could be caused from working with asbestos. And you really don't know where it is. And it's lurking somewhere in the tiniest little place, in the tiniest little corner and it could affect your life.

- Okay, let's have the scenario that I'm in the position you guys were all those years ago before your life was turned upside down. I'm keen, I'm young, I'm enthusiastic. I've got a house, it needs some work, I'm gonna do some renos. What advice do you give me as that young person looking back?

- If you can work out how old the house is, then there's a good chance that you can determine whether it's going to contain asbestos in parts of the home. Once you establish that then you can then get people in to test where it is. And I think I recommend that to everybody get your house tested. If you've got all time, the tests aren't that expensive it's not gonna cost that much. And it's gonna sets you up in good stead so that when you get a tradesman in you can tell them where the asbestos is 'cause you'll have a report that gives you that good evidence.

- And everybody says, but it cost you $60 or it costs you $80. I can't put a price on losing my son's life. And I just don't think that, like you wouldn't not put your child in a seatbelt if you're driving around the corner, so why would you not get your house tested to make sure that where you're doing the work or where you're raising your family is safe.

- And speaking of safe, I'm doing my renovation, I break a wall. I'm not sure it's asbestos but I've broken something and it doesn't look great. What's your advice.

- I'll stop work straight away and get someone in to lock down the site and get someone in to make sure what it is before you go on and continue working. It's better to be safe because not only are you putting yourself at risk you're putting anyone else that comes into that room.

- And I know you guys are safety advocates for the Queensland government at the moment and doing a great job although it's been a little testy this year because of COVID. But basically you wanna get messages of safety out there to prevent this happening to someone else of what happened to you.

- Correct, COVID has been probably a great time to do that renovation because Bunnings has stayed open or the lack of hardware store around has stayed open. So you've able to buy the gear to fix up that wall or to fix up that line. So you've had the opportunity. You can still call those guys out to get it tested. You can still go call the guys to do the removals so you can get on with that project. And I thoroughly suggest that that's the way you go. Don't do it yourself, get the experts in. They know what they're doing, they'll do it safely and you can protect your family.

- I think that's the perfect way to wind up our discussion early on. If you do have a question for Don and Julie, please ask it via the appropriate area through the chat box and we'll get to questions at the end of our presentation. Thanks guys, if you can take a seat and I'm sure there'll be some questions at the end of our session. All right, thank you. Well, time now to change tact and let's get in an expert regarding asbestos. And it's my pleasure to introduce Stephen Dukkha Principal Advisor Asbestos from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. And Stephen is going to talk about common uses and locations of asbestos. Good morning Steven.

- Can you hear me?

- Yeah.

- All right, good morning. Thanks Chris for those kind words I want to go through common uses and locations of asbestos and I'm gonna start off with the slide presentation. So the origins of asbestos, it's a naturally occurring mineral. It took millions of years to develop from water and mineral silicates trapped in rock fishes. And from that rock formation types, you had two groups. One amphibole and the other one the serpentine. In the amphibole group, you have crocidolite blue and Amosite and then in the other group serpentine, you had chrysolite white which makes up about 95% of asbestos types used in Australia. In the next slide, I'm going to talk about the properties of asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, easily acquired. It also is very versatile in its uses and has great flexibility, tensile strength, ability to insulate from heat, non-conductive to electricity, chemically inert and it was affordable to the industry. During the Pfizer, asbestos was used in construction products and was phased out in the mid 1990s. The use of all forms of a specialist was banned nationally from the 31st of December, 2003. You'll see that there's a little sticker on the right-hand side of the slide. That sticker is actually what was put on the back of the sheet. Assuming asbestos is present, if you've got a building that was built before the mid 1990s, it is likely to have asbestos containing materials ACMs. If it was built between the mid 1990s and 1990, it is likely to have asbestos containing materials. After 90, it is unlikely to have asbestos containing materials. The criteria for assuming asbestos. We look at the age of the building, the era of the renovation activity. This is when the homes were built in the earliest stages and renovated in the 1970s and eighties. We look at the common uses of products. We look at also the photo gallery which has about 79 photos, which actually help you look at different types of asbestos and identify them. We look at the manufacturer's labels as mentioned in the previous slide. We look and feel of the product. We look at the dimple effect, the protruding nails. The colour strip types, there could be either timber, moulding could be plastic door knobs, it could also be as best as confining a cover strips too. They were made in moulds as well too. In the next slide, we're gonna look at some photos of common asbestos container materials in the domestic and industrial use of asbestos containing materials. In this slide, you'll see single shingle tiles. Now these tiles were 305 millimetres by 305 millimetres and four millimetres thick. And which is 12 inches by 12 inches in the old Imperial scale. The next slide over the side on the right, you'll see it's a multi not shingle sheet. They are actually made up of four shingles to make up a sheet, which was 20 millimetres long by six 10 millimetres in width and four millimetres thick. The next one you'll see super six roof sheeting in the Tuscan style. This is just to reflect like a Tuscan tile from Italy. These sheets were short lengths. There are 750 millimetres long. And this one here you can see what was painted but that was after installation. It was never painted before installation. The next photo is a super six roof sheeting. You can see it's gone grey in colour. That's the liken and asbestos just covering it. It's what they call the liken coverings encapsulating it. It's a mould. The next slide is the super six roof fitting. You can actually see several products in here. You've got barge capping, form guttering, downpipes external wall sheeting, formed corners from absestos and also little drops from the down pops. The photo on the other side is called cover line. It is actually a vertical sheeting and it's used externally. The next one is a Hardy's shuffleboard. Now the shuffleboard you can see the 3-Form chamfers and then you'll see the joint up the top there that's how the sheet was made. They're 320 millimetres in width. Have a 4.5 millimetre thickness and ranged from 2.1 metres long to three metres long. The next photo is shatter line vertical shading used externally. It is one metre and 55 in width. External shading on the next photo, external corners, moulded cover strips. These are all made out of asbestos. And then you have the slaughter thick sheeting. This was done by the manufacturers. There's also artists types to sheeting where you see natural holes in it. That was actually done on site. LDB, internal sheeting. You got the system on the wall, you can see the greyish blue colour. Then you have the next slide you'll see LDB ceiling sheets. Now these sheets were a square aged finished but this one is done by hand beveling. They actually created a bevel edge. This would have been done by the carpenter on site. The next one is perforated, LDB. Now this type of shading was used to absorb the sound. And that's what I put the reasoning, they put the holes in. There are 4.4 millimetre holes, but if had an Oz it was also manufactured as a flat street, had bevelled edges as well as square edges and also recess edges. This sheet was manufactured with less cement and made with more calcium silicate, which has a plaster. And it has more asbestos fibres within the matrix than the standard cement sheet. A standard cement sheet has about 20% content of asbestos. This product as known in industry as light density board or LDB. LDB, which looks similar to asbestos cement shading is softer than plasterboard, can be easily bent in the hand and or dented by soft pressure. And it is softer than normal asbestos container material because it is made with calcium silicate which was used to bond the product. The board itself contain up to as much as 70% content of asbestos within the matrix. James Hardy called their product asbestos Luxe. And Mundelik another manufacturer, called the product Juror Lux. The next photo was taken from the inside of a ceiling cavity. And this is how James Hardy labelled the product. For more information, please download a copy of the Asbestos Guide for Minor Renovations. Thank you Chris.

- Thanks Stephen, certainly eye opening in the number of areas and the way it's been used. So if you do have a question for Steven, Steven will stand by and rejoin us during our panel discussion at the end. All you have to do is type your name and question via the chat box to the right of your screen. And we'll get to as many of those questions as we can. All right, let's move along and change tact again. And let's have a look at the impact that asbestos can have on a self-employed business owner. And for that perspective, let's welcome in Dustin Carroll, principal advisor, Asbestos Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. Good morning Dustin. Go to unmute Dustin otherwise it's just talking lips. Here we go.

- Yeah, is that better mate? Thanks Chris and thanks to Julia and Don also for your continued safety work and for that wise advice and having your homes tested. My name's Dustin Carroll and I'm employed as a Principal Inspector within Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Asbestos Unit. My job is to investigate incidents where asbestos removal has gone wrong. Up to 40% of compliance we saved by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland involve asbestos. Unfortunately, a lot of those events are where the asbestos has been removed unsafely, putting people at risk of exposure to airborne asbestos. This case study centres on a family home in Southeast Queensland. This area started to rapidly develop around the 1960s. The builder in our case study appeared to be an experienced tradesmen with many happy customers. It was a sizeable contract. And while there was no asbestos to remove a work plan, a significant quantity of asbestos was removed. Different materials were removed from different sections of the home, including a large amount of low density board or LDB. This resulted in asbestos dust and debris contaminating the home. During these renovations, the home was occupied by a family of four. As the regulator, we become aware of events such as this when people fail to identify and remove asbestos before demolition or refurbishment. When we move at work so conducted by unlicensed and unqualified workers. Where workers aren't supervised and where people cut corners. Our case study involves unlicensed, unsafe and incompetent asbestos removal work. And it's very unfortunate. I first attended a job back in January, 2020. The mother and father who lived in the house were scared and upset that they and their two young children had been exposed to airborne asbestos. They recently become aware that they had been living in a heavily contaminated home for almost a year and were advised to leave the home immediately. After meeting with the mother who was clearly distraught, another inspector and I conducted our risk assessment and entered the home. As I entered the home, I saw evidence of a hasty retreat such as bowls of half eaten cereal and an amount of cash sitting on the dining room table. There were clothes and toys on the lower floor consistent with the family home. And as I walked up the stairs to the first floor, I saw that it was mostly under refurbishment, except for the kitchen area still being used by the family. Wall lines were missing from the hallway, bathroom and bedrooms. There were new wall linings stalled in the hallway and I also saw a fairly large pile of waste materials in the master bedroom. Inquiries indicate that the homeowners had placed the project on hold due to circumstances with the builder and were pursuing alternative ways to complete the renovation. It wasn't until 10 months later that the homeowners became aware that the asbestos was. As you can imagine, this was very distressing and expensive for the family as they left with nothing but the clothes on their back and had to find other accommodation for approximately six months while Workplace Health and Safety Queensland initiated legal proceedings regarding the remediation of the home. The low density body in this house had been removed from wall and ceiling sheets in a staircase, the hallway and two bedrooms. It had also been drilled and damaged in the dining room and lounge area. There were different asbestos containing materials removed from other sections of the home. The lower centre photo here shows a hole that was created through the internal and external cladding for air conditioning pipes. The old debris badly damaged. To the left, we see the hallway of the home. We understand that a young worker was tasked with removing the now heads and debris from the walls. As now almost aware this material was asbestos the young worker very likely did so without wearing PPE or RPE. There was quite a bit of dust on the floor. So why was the sheet removed in this manner? There seems to have been an assumption that the material was plasterboard. When it's in good condition and painted, it's difficult to distinguish between LDB and other types of shading. This stresses the point that identification must be conducted by a competent person. The product LDB was manufactured from the 1950s to the 1970s as a flat shade or perforated shading product typically used for acoustic applications. As LDB is soft or low density, it tends to tear when it's broken. In this closeup image, we can see the furry or fibrous look of the product. As previously mentioned by Steven Ductor, LDB is a very high-risk asbestos material because it can contain up to 70% asbestos fibres by volume as opposed to asbestos cement shading which typically contains between five and 20% asbestos There are a few typical characteristics that can tell you that you're looking at LDB. Such as, for example, the heads of the nails or clouds are often embedded or recessed into the surface of LDB shading, as opposed to now heads protruding on asbestos cement fibre. Another would be that our hand pressure press with a tip of a screwdriver will dent the surface of LDB shading due to the softness or low density of the product. Another may be the noise it will produce. If you tap LDB shading with a coin or a key for example, LDB will produce a dollar dead sound due to the softness of the product. This is opposed to especially a cement fibre shading which will produce a sharp or clicking sound as it is hard and brittle. LDB tends to flex when pressure is applied. LDB can be broken easily with ham presser. As previously mentioned, the product will tear rather than snap once at breaking point. It can be difficult to remove nail heads and other fasteners from LDB without tearing or breaking the product into very small places. Back in our case study, there was lots of visible dust, debris and torn jagged edges of LDB on the floor and still on the walls. To the right in this photo, we can see where the walls have not been claimed or denied and where clams of LDB asbestos are still around the now heads. To consider that a worker would no doubt work with the claw of his hammer to knock those dags off the wall. With no PPE or RPE is just scaring. To the left, we can see broken sheets of LDB in a plaud in LDB. Dust and debris scattered across the floor. The law says, asbestos must be identified and removed before refurbishment. The law also says that as far as reasonably practicable all asbestos and ACM at the workplace is identified by a competent person. A competent person is defined in schedule 19 of the regulation, as a person who has acquired through training and qualification or experience, the knowledge and skills to carry out the task. In the photo depicted on this slide, a father and son smashed asbestos cement fibre shading off the walls of another South East Queensland home. As they attempted to remove almost 40 square metres of asbestos. The workers worked hard without wearing PPE or RPE. They were not wrapping the waste or lining the trail they used. They were a hazard to everyone and most of all, themselves. The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, Section 485, required that this remover work be done with minimal breakage. And by a B or A class, licenced removalist. We also see the risk of exposure to airborne asbestos where workers are not supervised and where people cut corners. The photo on this slide depicts a job where workers were left unsupervised. The workers were keen to get the job done fast by cutting corners and smashing sheets rather than removing the sheets hole. Our inspector also saw one of the workers swiping the dust and debris with a broom. Unfortunately, on this job the workers forgot their hose. They actually knocked on the neighbor's door and borrowed his hose. However, it was too short to be of use to them. So they worked without water suppression. These workers were not properly supervised. Given the correct supervision and guidance, these lads would develop into skilled workers. However, at the level they're at here they were a danger to everyone and needed supervision. Back to our case study, the renovation contract between the builder and home was financially very tight. There was no room for error or variations. A few typical construction hiccups occurred as the works proceeded which results in a budget blow up. To compensate this the builder and the homeowner agreed that the homeowner would do some librarian work for the builder on a couple of the builder's projects. This agreement now made the home owner one of the builder's workers. And of course the builder had a duty of care for his workers health and safety. They agreed as part of the homeowner's library tasks the homeowner would remove all wall linings from the upper level bedrooms. Therefore without identification of materials and with zero training, the homeowner broke off all LDB wall linings from those rooms wearing an unrated nuisance dust mask. Most of the waste materials were thrown out the window to the skip in below. And this is depicted in the photo on this slide. The residual dust and debris in the bedroom was vacuumed up with an unrated tried vacuum. This worked out very expensive for the builder also, whom we directed to engage a class A asbestos removalist to clean up. The cost of a client app was approximately $20,000. This event fits the criteria in our robust asbestos regulator programme for comprehensive investigation by the asbestos unit. The asbestos unit are conducting the comprehensive investigation into this event to determine if the builder should front court over the matter. When investigating an incident as such, we'll gather the evidence to inform appropriate enforcement action, which can include court action or on the spot fines. Well thank you Chris.

- Thanks Dustin, very comprehensive. There are obligations and certainly duties on those working alongside asbestos and asbestos containing materials. You have helped us identify that and some of the enforcement issues and some of the duties that fall on small business owners. Dustin, you can put your mic on mute now but remember to take it off mute when we get back to the panel session. And if you'd like to ask Dustin or any of our panel members a question don't forget to type your name and question via the chat box to the right of your screen. Let's move on to the next of our speakers. And I'd like to introduce Peter McGarry Director Asbestos Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. And this is all about helping your business meet its responsibilities when working with asbestos. Welcome and good morning Peter.

- I thank you Chris and good morning to everybody and thanks Dustin and Steven for your presentations. Dustin is much better at asbestos work than he is at using his microphone, but well done. And actually, I'm the Director of the Government Asbestos Unit and Dustin and Steven and the rest of the team. I've got an excellent team. And we exist, unfortunately because those events that Dustin just described, they're all too common. Only last night we were notified of a homeowner who's put a grinder through an asbestos containing material. We'll be responding to that later today. That dust that's caused puts people at risk of exposure to asbestos. The government has an asbestos unit because we're totally dedicated to preventing any mesothelioma. And we wanna stop what's happened to Don and Julie's son. And that's what we're tasked to do. Difficult task, but we're motivated to do it. Just gonna put my next slide up. All right, so the role of the Asbestos Unit. Well our primary role is to actually stop poor work that's occurring with asbestos. Evaluate the circumstances. We then step in and prescribe how the asbestos dust and debris is to be cleaned up. And we actually oversee how that dust and debris is remediated. We actually enforced the law. We investigate with a view to prosecution. We investigate with the view of the cancelling. A and B class licences. And I'll say a bit more about that shortly. We have a balanced approach so we're not all about the big stick. We actually put a lot of time into educating the community regarding asbestos risk management and that's what we're doing here today in this webinar. So on what can you do to protect yourself from the risk of exposure to asbestos. So first thing to do is to know where the asbestos is. The asbestos we say it could be lurking anywhere. There were more than 3000 products that were manufactured with asbestos over mainly last century. You'll find it in an old tops of building materials particularly for any building that was built or renovated before 1990 and in items of plant and equipment that were manufactured or imported before 2003. So we do have a very good website and I've got the address up there, www.asbestos.qld.gov.edu. Fairly simple one, if you can remember the qld.gov.edu. Lots of excellent photos and videos on there that help you to identify where asbestos is, show you how to actually work safely with asbestos. Wholly provide the information. If you want to find an A or B class licenced removalist you'll find a list on that website. The next thing you can do is be clear about the roles and responsibilities. So you're at the workplace and you've got a team. You'll have supervisor and you'll have workers. The supervisors and workers all have very important roles. The supervisor in particular very key role. Ensure compliance with the employer's duty to provide a safe workplace. So the employer employs a supervisor to make sure that the safe work procedures are followed, that there's supervision and instruction and training to the people who are going to do the work on the asbestos containing materials. The supervisor should inspect the site for the presence of asbestos. So before they start a new job particularly, they should use their knowledge of identifying asbestos. They might've been underway our website that I just explained on the previous slide. And having a look our for asbestos. Its not just on the first day, if you're doing refurbishment work you may actually pull a wall away or lift up some floor covering and it could be asbestos underneath. So it's ongoing diligence on inspection. Control the work by ensuring that the safe work procedures and controls are used. There's no point in having decided that you're gonna do the work and use certain work procedures and use certain personal protective equipment, if you don't actually actually implement them. And you need to guide and mentor young or new workers. Even some of the old workers need mentoring. I'm an older worker and sometimes I need a bit of guidance as to what I'm supposed to be doing. Okay now, workers have a very important role as well. So alert your supervisor and other workers the presence of asbestos or possible asbestos being present. Okay, so it's about empowerment and speaking up. If you think there's asbestos there, you should and you have a right to speak up and say, well look, I actually had a look at that really great government website that Peter told me about. And I saw a photo or I saw a video and I think that's asbestos. So I don't think we should do any work on that until we actually have it tested. 20 to $40 to have a piece of material tested, not very much money for peace of mind that you haven't been exposed or your workers or your colleagues haven't been exposed to asbestos. Then as a worker, you're under the lead Work Health and Safety Legislation, you must actually follow the instructions, the reasonable instructions of your supervisor and your employer and follow what's in the safe work methods. And you must use all the controls, including the personal protective equipment. The next thing you can do to protect your risk of exposure to asbestos, we recommend that no matter how much asbestos that you're going to remove, you engage a licenced asbestos removalist. So even for a small amount, it's just safer to get the professionals in and get them to remove the asbestos, clean it up, package it up and just take it away and get rid of it properly, safely and legally. But at the very least, there is a legislative requirement that for certain quantities or types of asbestos, you must actually engage a licenced asbestos removalist. So if you're removing greater than 10 square metres of non-friable asbestos, you must engage either a B or an A class licenced asbestos removalist. If you're removing any quantity of friable asbestos. So friable asbestos would it be a material that, not that I'm telling you to do this, but if hypothetically or mentally, if you were to grind pick that piece of material up and it would turn to powder in your hand, that's friable. No matter how much of the friable you're removing you must engage an A-class licenced asbestos removalist. And if there's more than what we call minor quantities of asbestos dust and debris, then you need to engage a licenced removalist to clean that up. So some of those examples that Dustin gave in those photos that amount of dust and debris is what we would call more than minor quantities. And you might have caused the dust and debris but you have to get a licenced person in to clean it up. And there's some logic there in the legislation. All right, so the next thing we'd asked you to do is be aware of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a very nasty cancer of the lungs. There's no cure for mesothelioma. Very low levels of breathing in asbestos fibres can cause so mesothelioma. So you might think, oh look, I'll just take the risk today, I won't wear my respirator. So I'll be all right today. You don't know what your exposure is going to be tomorrow, the next day or the next week. And if you get lots of low levels of exposure that cumulative exposure, places you at risk of mesothelioma. So you can't predict the future. So each and every time you do any work with asbestos containing material, follow the safe work procedure, wear the personal protective equipment, particularly the respirator. There's no way it'll be right this one. Currently in Australia, this is tragic. On average, two people are newly diagnosed with mesothelioma every day. And these people are probably just like you. They're tradies, they're homeowners, they're performing work on common building materials that Steven described, construction, renovations, doing tradie and DIY tasks on asbestos containing materials. All at risk of exposure to asbestos. But the good news is if you don't breathe in asbestos fibres means you're not at risk. So do your identification. If you identify it's asbestos, if you're doing removal, get the licenced removalist in. If you're having to still do the work on it, then ensure you implement your safe work procedures and that you're wearing your personal protective equipment. If you're doing all that, your not making the fibres airborne, you're not breathing them in, you're not at risk of mesothelioma. Use the appropriate controls if working on the asbestos containing materials. Or better still, don't work on the asbestos containing material unless you have to do it. We say that the asbestos containing materials in a good condition and you don't have to disturb it, then don't. Be aware that you can be prosecuted or fined. As I outlined before, one of the primary tasks of the Asbestos Unit is where we actually investigate some of these events. I've got a graph up there just showing that over the last couple of years, some of our prosecution outcomes. I don't sleep better because we've prosecuted someone or we've cancelled someone's licence. But I do sleep better knowing that the workers we employed are no longer being exposed because the employer was not following the law and doing the right thing. So if you don't comply with the asbestos law, you're likely to be fined or prosecuted. That's just the reality. You might take the risk, nine times out of 10 you get away with it. But that one time set of 10, we're gonna find out and it's our role to prosecute. And the stats I've got up here, they just relate to the outcomes from Asbestos Unit work. There's only eight of us in the Asbestos Unit. There's a couple of hundred inspectors within Workplace Health and Safety Queensland across the State. And they are out there and they're likely to come across you if you're doing the wrong thing. Have a look at our publications. There is a great publication. All our publications are great but this one here, is based as a guide for minor renovation. It's available now on our website and it contains the information right from the start of identifying right through to doing work to actually how you can legally dispose off asbestos waste. Don't use high pressure water on asbestos containing materials. If you water blast an asbestos roof, it puts asbestos debris all over that property, the neighbouring properties and out onto the street. Unfortunately we see it. We respond to about a dozen of these events every year. The asbestos debris is like paper mashay it sticks to everything. It can be like a snow all over the grass. It's putting people in the neighbourhood at risk because those fibres can easily become airborne. That's some more information, that's how you can engage with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. So thanks and I look forward to answering any questions that you might have. Back to you Chris.

- Thanks Peter. There is our Facebook details and as Peter said, I'm amazed at the number of people still doing the wrong thing and as a communicator and a media manager within Workplace Health and Safety, I see prosecutions come across our desk all the time. And it amazes me that people are still doing the wrong thing and trying to get away with it and endangering the lives of not only themselves, their workers, neighbours and people in the community. So we've got to get the message through, do the right thing, be sensible about this. And that's what we're here for today. Peter is part of our mission. If you've got a question for any of our panel members, please do so via the chat box. Give us your name, your question, perhaps to whom you'd like that question referred to and we'll get to as many of those as we can. All right, let's head into our question session. And Don and Julie, Steven, Dustin and Peter and I hope our two remote boys have got their microphones off mute. Just making sure you in particular Dustin, not that we're singling you out at all today. But yes, times for questions. And the first one is from Omar. And the question is, is there a simple way to recognise an asbestos containing product. I.e, Hardy plank, all the fibre versus cement sheet. Steven this might be you to kick us off.

- Yeah, just have a look the guide and our photo gallery. We've got some Hardy plank. You can look at it like pictorially but the best way to do is grab a small sample of it safely or have it organised to be sampled to verify and get it analysed by a NATA accredited lab. It's just even looking at the product sometimes the fibres are so small that you can't see it by the naked eye, it's actually in the matrix. So my opinion would be the best way to do it is have it analysed and then you'll actually have it in writing.

- Thanks Peter, great advice. Stephen, I mean. Let's move on to Jodi and this is a question about asbestos obviously. Does a class B licence apply to cumulative more than 10 square metres of asbestos removal? For example, companies conducting regular but unplanned reactive maintenance on essential services such as water pipe bursts, where one job may be removing under the set amount but over the course of the week, month, year or whatever it adds up above that, Peter.

- Yeah, look a good, good question. Look if you know for the project say you might be removing asbestos at a house or at a commercial site and you know there's gonna be greater than 10 square metres, then you have to engage a licenced asbestos removalist and you have to actually notify Workplace Health and Safety Queensland as the regulator. Now we and the legislation acknowledges that you might come across accidentally some asbestos containing material that you didn't know was there. You pulled out an old wall or picked up some floor. If there's less than 10 square metres then you don't have to engage a licenced asbestos removalist although we highly recommend that you do. Or if you find that you found nine square metres and then a week later, you find another 20 square metres that's when you should stop and then engage a licenced asbestos removelist. And I will just add you can't try and get round the legislation by removing nine square metres each day. Nine square metres Monday, nine square metres Tuesday, nine square metres Wednesday, because you intend to remove 18 square metres or more. And so then you must engage a licenced removalist.

- Okay well, I hope that helps with that question. This one comes from Nick and it's directed at you, Steven. If I intended to renovate say a bedroom and a bathroom, can I do the asbestos identification process myself? And would I need to keep any records of this procedure?

- Right, with identification and you know the building was built between a certain time and age frame that you know that it is, you assume it is asbestos. And if you are a homeowner and there's more than 10 square metres, you still need to have a licence or get somebody else a licence. You need to do some training for that because we you can't allow, because they're removing and it still has to be done safely in a safe manner. The amount of asbestos it could vary. Our best insight is to get somebody that's an expert to identify exactly what you've got. That's my opinion on that.

- Okay.

- Hopefully that answers this question.

- Let me go one step further and have a follow-up question. Peter you might be able to help with this one as well. I'm a home owner, I've disturbed a wall, I've got a piece of what I think might be asbestos. Can I take that somewhere and say, can you check this for me? I wanna know 100% for my peace of mind before I proceed.

- For sure, like the first thing I would say is that if the building has been renovated or built before 1990, then you should assume that there's asbestos somewhere in the place. But the only way to know for sure is to have it tested. So if you've got a small piece, you can take it to, what we call a NATA accredited laboratory. So you just do a Google search asbestos NATA, N-A-T-A laboratory and for between say 20 and $45 on average they will look at the piece under a microscope and tell you if it contains asbestos or not. Peace of mind, if it contains asbestos you can make a decision then as to what you're going to do. No asbestos, then you can move on safely that you're not gonna put yourself at risk of particularly mesothelioma.

- Peter, roughly how long would that take? I mean, if I took it in on Monday would I have the result by Wednesday or Friday?

- NATA labs would do it that day or have it to you the next day. A lot of laboratories, I know we're a big State and you can actually legally post a sample to a laboratory. You'll phone up a laboratory and they'll tell you how to do it. You will actually contain the sample in two plastic bags and then seal it up in an envelope and you can post it down. So yeah, if you send it by snail post then it takes quite a while. But when they get it, they'll have the results. They'll probably email you the results.

- Yeah, I might bring the Sagers in here. If that was available during your time and you knew about it, that's the first thing you would have done is maybe get a small sample piece send it off and get it tested.

- Absolutely.

- That's for sure. Okay, ours wasn't a brand new home and if we hadn't seen the warning signs but the panels were already fabricated so there was no way. If we had have realised that there was asbestos, if someone had said, well, this is asbestos even the buildup before I left the site.

- Yeah.

- If we had a minus away, then we would have tested it got someone in to do the right job.

- I'll get to another one of those questions, while I've got you here and we're talking about this, what do you say to the people who say testing is too expensive, it's another cost. What a pain that is and who continue to take shortcuts and are putting people's lives at risk. What do you say to them as someone whose world has been turned upside down?

- I probably can't repeat what I would say to them. But I would like to say, I don't think you can put a cost on your family's health and safety. We're all too eager to spend money on ancillary things that we don't necessarily need or we think we need. But what we need to do is keep our family and our loved ones safe and secure. And this is the beginning. It's hard and it might mean that the job that you do doesn't get started for a little while. From our perspective we've got bathrooms that need to be redone. They need to have the asbestos taken out of them. We just can't do that at this point. So bathrooms just don't get redone. We'd rather have safe environment and leave it like it is until it needs to be redone professionally.

- From over your word, you can't be too overcautious.

- And in the back of your mind you should be thinking, okay, I'm doing this job, but who else am I affecting? It's not just someone else might be contacted. If I become sick, what is my family going to do with the rest of their life?

- What's the impact it has on everybody else? And it may not affect the person that's doing the work. It may affect the person who's washing the clothes. It may affect the person that stands beside them. It's all of those tiny little things that you don't think. My grandbabies, no way, man. Yeah, it's hard and it's hard to have those conversations with people who've say... And I've had them when they say, I've been doing this 50 years it doesn't affect me. And I want to say, I hope it never affects you but there's a chance it may affect somebody you love.

- This a question that I've seen on the screen for a while. It comes from Olivia and it's aimed at you and Don. And she says, thank you for sharing your story. What do you do to remember Adam?

- We talk about him often. When he first took his little journey, it used to be hourly. Now it's daily or weekly. There is a chair that has Adam's name on it at the Mounts Botanical Garden outside the Japanese Garden which was his favourite place apart from the Regatta. And we go to both spots. We visit that chair frequently. On the day that Adam passed we have what's called Adam's day. And we listen to bad music and tell bad stories. And we do this. This allows us to share Adam with the world. And as much as he was a bit of a rack bag he was very socially conscious. And this is what we do.

- Well, if I can join you one year for Adam's day I can tell some bad dad jokes then.

- Right.

- Thanks, this question again to you guys, such a tragic story I'd like to know what happened to your son. Why did you become a safety advocate without going through all the details? 'Cause we've been through this already in our presentation. And what do you do as a safety advocate? Explain your role. You know, we've seen a little bit of what you do here today, but if you could just tell us the passion that drives you every day in this role.

- We're fortunate enough to be able to do this. We share Adam's story. There is a 16 minute film that outlines basically from word go with his world. And our job is to share what could happen and the impact that it has on families and loved ones if you don't take care with what's working with. And it's not meant to frighten people. It's not meant to say this is what's going to happen, it's just a brief picture of what actually could happen and how it does affect your family and your loved ones. What we actually do is we go to workplaces, we go to TAFE colleges, we go to universities, we go wherever people ring and say, we'd like me to come and talk to our staff or our trainees. And we just show them that. And we chat to them about our life and what done and where it's taken us and what we want them to do and how it's their responsibility to look after themselves and not leave it to anybody else. As the young trainees, if they see something that they don't think is right they need to put their hand up and say, I'm not happy with this. And I don't want this to happen to me.

- With all the years that we have been doing the talks and presentations, we're still finding people, I don't know whether it's naive, we definitely were naive. But the younger people coming through aren't either being trained or just think they bullet proof. And it's those young people where you need to get across because they're going to transfer it forward. They have their supervisors. Yes, they've been through the year where they've worked with it. And at the moment, don't think that they're in any trouble but we don't know, it can happen any at any moment.

- All right, let's get a question from Patrick. And Patrick ask if ACM is contained I.e fully painted walls, can high pressure water blasters be used?

- Well, no they can't. It's black and white in the legislation, it's illegal. Even if it's painted, you can not use high pressure water on an asbestos containing material. The risk of the material being broken down, even if it's painted and making fibres airborne, or putting dust and debris around to expose people who live next door when they mow the lawn and mow through the asbestos containing material is just too high. So the parliament has put in the law you can not use high pressure water on asbestos containing material, full stop.

- While you're under the microscope at the moment, this is from Paul. And he'd like to know it's a two fold question. Do building and pest inspections cover asbestos? Like when we're getting an inspection done. And is there any risk to the occupants of a home that is likely to contain asbestos I.e built before the nineties, if no renovations are done. So the asbestos is not being disturbed as such.

- Okay, well building and pest inspections, by law they don't include an asbestos assessment or survey. It doesn't mean that someone who does building and pest inspections can't do an asbestos survey, they have to be competent to do it. So possibly there are people out there who see the opportunity to do a building pest and asbestos inspection, but they have to be competent in all those three areas for obvious reasons. Well to properly be able to identify asbestos you'd have to work in the industry for many years. So you'd have to have that industry experience. And that's the key. I mean, legislation doesn't say you have to work in the asbestos industry for 10 years to be a competent person, but that's really the only way you can be competent.

- What about the non-disturbance of asbestos.

- If the asbestos containing material is in good condition then I'm a certified occupational hygienist. And I operate in the area of doing and looking at air monitoring results. And it's quite clear that, air monitoring done inside houses where the asbestos containing material is in good condition, it's very difficult to actually measure asbestos fibres in the air. And to measure even the lowest concentration you need electron microscope. So there's such a low concentration and the concentration is at or less than what we call the environmental background asbestos exposure. Because over the last century, we've dug up, mined and milled, made new asbestos containing materials installed them and now we're starting to remove them. Volcanic eruptions put naturally occurring asbestos into the air. So we all actually breathe in an extremely low level of asbestos every day. So we can't say zero risk, but extremely, very, very low risk if the asbestos containing material is in good condition in your house.

- Yep, Peter thank you. Let's bring in Dustin one for you, Dustin. This is from Peter from Townsville. And he asked, what do we do if we have to work on a site that has asbestos in the ceiling of the shop. The staff will stop work on site as it is an old ceiling with a new one installed under. But if they have broken the old ceiling to get the wiring through it's been tested and it's active asbestos. So there's a scenario for you. What are we doing?

- I'll just discuss with a professional and as a professional asbestos worker and make sure the area's contained appropriately. If the removal works have to be done, I would be encouraging engagement of an appropriately licenced removalist. And if it's over 10 square metres of bonded asbestos then definitely you would be required to use appropriately licenced removalist or if the material is friable at all. So definitely stop work and have the area evaluated by a professional.

- Great advice, thank you. Let's move on to our next question. This is from Sandra. How do I, as a home owner, make sure that any past asbestos removal cleaning has been done properly, Steven.

- Removed, like there's been some removal that's already occurred at the property?

- I wanna clean up what's been left behind.

- All right, so it's whoever's done the work should have actually had a H class or hazardous class industrial vacuum which fitted with a HEPA filtered vacuum that has to be vacuum first and then followed by wet wiping is the correct method. The homeowner should not be doing that, it should be a loss as person should be doing that cleanup.

- And as the homeowner how do I know that's all being done? How do I do it? Is it pristine...

- They should actually have a clearance certificate. And depending on the removal that happened or what type of work has been occurred so that it could have been an A-class. If it's an A class it should have done some air monitoring and they should have a clearance certificate. Bonded removal should be a clearance certificate. Okay, so they should have some sort of clearances certificates.

- Okay, thank you. And this looks like it might be our last question and it comes from Warren. And it says, this is probably one of those dumb questions. Warren, when it comes to safety, there are no dumb questions let me guarantee you, that needs to be asked. So what can the industry do to improve practises of all building companies from large to small when it comes to asbestos? Pet, you might wanna jump into this one.

- Yeah, for sure. There's a great opportunity for industry and businesses to partner with WHSQ to get information out to all building companies. You know, there's opportunities for industry groups within the building industry to promote webinars such as the one today. The Asbestos Unit and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland in general do a lot of educational type programmes. We actually have on our website, a training site. And we've broken all the information down into learning objectives. And then we've got the links to the videos, et cetera. And they are designed so that in industry you can do a toolbox talk or you can bring your crew in to do some training in the donga on the construction site. And then indeed, as we move into the really hot weather, there may be times when we decided well, we're not gonna work at this time of the day, so let's go do some training. So let's go into the air conditioning donga on the construction site and let's go into the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website. And let's go to the training side and let's do some toolbox talks and let's have a chat about and let's improve our knowledge.

- And also well, on Twitter, we touched on it before I do a lot of prosecution media releases trying to get out what people have done wrong. And this is more about getting the message out of what not to do. And what happens if you do something that is wrong, isn't it? Well, we don't really want to do that as the regulator, but we've got to get the message out. Don't do the wrong thing.

- And look on our website, www.asbestos.qld.gov.au, there's a link which will take you to a summary of our prosecutions, our infringements and our licenced sanctions. And there's a story there as to what the employer did wrong and why they actually got that sanction. And that's a good thing to read through as well because there's some lessons learned for you moving forward.

- Well, thank you everyone for joining us today. First of all, on behalf of Workplace Health and Safety, I'd like to say thanks to our presenters. Don and Julie, thank you for joining us and sharing your story. Luckily, I haven't had to use the tissues yet, but it's not far off. To Steven and Dustin who joined us remotely, thank you guys. Appreciate your help and your perspective when it comes to safety around asbestos. And to you too Peter, thank you for joining us. Some great advice given out today. Please follow it, don't take shortcuts, don't compromise. We know what happens or what can happen if you do shortcuts and don't do the right thing. And please as Peter has said on numerous occasions, visit asbestos.qld.gov.au to access resources and other guides material to learn more about asbestos. Today's session was recorded. So you can watch it again or share it with your friends and colleagues at asbestos.qld.gov.au. Shortly we'll email you a feedback survey and we would really value your feedback. Give us some suggestions on what you'd like to see in the future, what you enjoyed, what perhaps you didn't like, maybe you didn't like the MC. I'm happy to hear your feedback. Please send those in once you get the email. And again on behalf of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, thanks for joining us today. I hope you've enjoyed our session on asbestos. And remember please be safe, no compromising. And if in doubt, get an expert in, thank you.